Discussing Body Parts With Our Children

Often children have minimal information. I was asked to evaluate a young girl who was suspected of having been abused.  I asked her where the man had touched her and she said, “Down there.”  When I asked her to point to the part of her body she was referring to she pointed to her vagina.  In order to present the evidence, it was necessary for her to know the appropriate term.  I taught her and showed her pictures of bodies of boys, girls, men and women to learn the names of the parts of the body.

It is interesting how we can easily teach the words eyes, nose, mouth, hands, stomach, etc., but we cannot label body parts that have any connection to sex.  Thus penis, vagina, breasts, nipples, are avoided.  We also do not teach universal terms for excretion: urination and bowel movement.

We are sexual creatures from birth.  We respond to touch.  It is a wise thing to acknowledge so that young people do not feel uncomfortable for their sensual feelings.  Children do have curiosity about the body parts of the other sex, and the opportunity to discretely see a parent or sibling naked is a safe way to learn.